Herb Hoeland, Paramus High School's first basketball coach and longtime athletic director, died Saturday. He was 81.

The cause was complications from an infection, said his son Jim.

"It was exciting for everybody in 1957 when the school opened," Mr. Hoeland once reminisced. He made it more exciting by building a competitive boys' basketball program.

In their second season, the Spartans were invited by the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League to play in its Christmas tournament, which they won. Paramus joined the NNJIL the following year. In 1962-63, Mr. Hoeland led the Spartans to victories in the NNJIL tourney and the Bergen Jamboree; they concluded a 22-3 season by losing to South Jersey's Audubon High School, 53-50, in the State Group 3 finals.

Jeff Perry, the starting point guard as a junior on the 1962-63 team, said Mr. Hoeland excelled at getting the most from his players. Little was expected of Paramus that season, and the starting five was height-challenged 6-foot-3, 6-foot, 6-foot, 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-8 but the team played a smothering defense that Mr. Hoeland borrowed from Auburn University.

"I remember one time, he was trying to tell us we had to be hungry," said Perry, of Westwood. "So during a practice he actually placed raw meat over the basket and told us to go get it. Herb had a tremendous sense of humor."

Mr. Hoeland left coaching in 1964 to become Paramus High School athletic director, a post he held until retiring in 1992.

He was inducted into the newly formed Paramus High School Athletic Hall of Fame last year.

A standout basketball guard at Bogota High School, Mr. Hoeland earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Seton Hall University. He spent his entire career in the Paramus district and also was supervisor of physical education.

He kept physically fit in retirement and shot hoops until a few years ago, his son said. Mr. Hoeland, a Paramus resident since 1955, often could be found cheering on the Paramus football and basketball teams.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Helen; his children, Jim Hoeland of Colorado Springs, Colo., Linda Baart of Absecon and Tom Hoeland of Oakland; a brother, Phil Hoeland of Wanaque, and six grandchildren.